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tv   Q A  CSPAN  August 1, 2011 6:00am-7:00am EDT

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the house is in at 10:00 a.m. eastern for general speeches and resumes legislative business at noon eastern. the senate returns at 10:30 a.m. eastern and will debate on the latest version of the bill to raise the debt ceiling you can watch live coverage >> this week, one of williams. >> juan williams is our guest to discuss his new book, "muzzled: the assault on honest debate." it includes a firing from national public radio. >> juan williams, at the author of "muzzled: the assault on honest debate." you had a a a book party recently. >> there is a moment back then. i thought a career that had taken many years to build was
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going down the tubes. today people thought we read going to a book signing. you hear the celebration. i do not know if you have a celebration of these television shows. i am standing. you cannot get to that point without people who care about you and to take u.s. side and tell you when you are wrong and gave you some counseling. >> why reduce so afraid back then? it seems that you made out like a bandit. >> it is interesting. i often get that response from men who say you got a big contract from fox to cover and a loss you had. you did fine. women say, are you ok?
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they understand the emotional power that comes with not only being fired publicly but being branded as a big it and being told that -- the woman who was running npr that said it was coming from public consultant. it felt as if not only was i being sensationalized and being made less of an intellect and journalist, but my entire reputation and what i do as a journalist was being diminished in a way that it would harm my value to future employees. people would say, i do not take that man seriously. my journalism and work often requires me to say things that do not make people happy. i tend not to be very predictable. and it to be undermined in
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terms of my credibility in that way fell threatening. >> let's jump back into it. here is that night on the bill o'reilly show. >> political correctness can lead to paralysis. i am not a big hit. the kinds of books i have written about, when i get on a plane, if i see people who are in a muslim garb and i feel they are identifying themselves as muslims, i get worried and nervous. i remember when the times square bomber said that the war with muslims is just beginning. there is no way to get away from these facts. there are people that want to remind us all that it is not a war against islam.
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>> when did you know that that was controversial? what year was that, december 2010? >> yes. actually, it must have been earlier. in must've been october of 2010. that was on a monday night when i did the o'reilly show. i went home. i had no clue. i never had a moment of thinking i should have raised that differently. i went off to give a speech in chicago. i was congratulated by people who were muslims for standing up. no idea until i was going to new york on the wednesday after this. a lady called in washington to say that her office was being flooded by e-mail's that said that i should be fired. i said, do you know what?
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everybody has something to say about me at some point. i do not take it that seriously. i did my day in new york at the fox news channel headquarters. it was only at 5:00 that i received a call from the lady who runs the division in forming that i was being fired and asking me how dare i say that in that it was a positive thing. we have heard it. this has been apparent from the higher up. you are gone. there's nothing you can say that would make a difference. i cannot believe what was going on. you played a clip of that. i go on in that. it is very clear i am building an argument saying we do not make a judgment of all christians based on the behavior of people at the westboro baptist church. we do not lead to those
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judgments. we should not lead to those judgments about muslims. i was not suggesting that we have a discriminatory policy against people in muslim garb. i was suggesting a feeling of anxiety. >> do you have any idea how she found out about this? >> i do not. there was an internet campaign launched by the council of islamic relations. they said i had committed an act of bigotry and called for me to be fired. it caught the intention of her.
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>> we will run the show where there is a clip of the former head of npr talking about you in a speech in atlanta. let's watch this. >> she goes on and gives a speech today. listen to this clip. >> juan feels the way he feels. it is not my position to pass judgment. that is his feeling. that is between him and his psychiatrist and publicist. take your pick. it is not compatible with the role of a news analyst on npr. >> are you kidding me? >> a psychiatrist that now i am mentally unstable. >> he was the journalist running this operation that it is unbelievable. she apologized after. >> not to me.
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>> that is a good point. >> if someone goes to a psychiatrist, are they a psycho? >> that is the implication. that is one level of offense. the second level is why would she attack the one that was an employee? she started to understand that there was some public consequence to your actions. i came to the post as an intern in 1976. i worked at a newspaper in
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philadelphia. before that i had been the editor of my high school paper. i had done freelancing. i came to the post as an intern. i became the local police reporter and the white house correspondent, congressional correspondent. i was a political analyst type person working for the main section. then a magazine writer. i wrote several books. >> when was the first moment you have contact with npr where they were asking me to work for them? >> i had gone at the official start date in 2000, and the end of 1999. i finished writing my biography of justice marshall. the question was what i would
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do next. i signed a contract with the "washington post" and "newsweek" to do long form of journalism for both. it allowed me to be on assignment. that is when npr came to me. >> do you remember how it happened? >> he was the top executive at npr. bruce said i should have an opportunity to sit in and see what it would be like to be an afternoon show host. they had just lost their host. when i came in and did it for three days, one of their top executives came in and said, what do you think about doing this full-time? newslways been a print guy.
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this had been owned by the "washington post." we would be honored to have you come and join us. >> do you remember who that was? >> i do not remember her last name. they engaged in contract negotiations. it is relevant to our conversation that i was already working at fox news channel since 1997. it was ok with npr. >> when was the first moment that you crossed words? >> she was the executive producer of the afternoon news show. i never worked for them. occasionally, pieces would be taken from the work i was doing. i never had much professional interaction.
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i never had lunch with her. when she became the top news executive in the middle of some changes, and she picked up this baton of criticism of why are you working for fox. previous generations have been through this issue. there were some people who said why is the leading personality for npr also working for fox? there's no problem with it. they might come to npr as a result of seeing me engaged with some of the strong personalities on fox. subsequently, there is argument about why do you write for the "new york times?" i said i was a writer.
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that is how i came into this business. she said, "we want to approve what you write." i said, "i am not comfortable with that." she wanted to see book proposals. i said, "i do not think so." that is the part of my contract. there is a piece i wrote after the brown decision by the supreme court in which i said we are moving way past the brown decision and into a new realm where the idea of court imposed segregation is falling away. we need to look at more options. she said, "you are attacking teachers union." i said, "i am not attacking anyone." i am telling a story. i am not the beat reporter on education. my job was as a news analyst. what is the problem?
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she did not like it. we do not what you doing that. at one point, she did not want me identify myself as an npr reporter or analysts or anybody who did political reporting for npr. especially when i was on fox opinion shows. i said, i will do whatever you want. i am a big fan of npr. i value them. they have a massive audience. the audience was mostly hugely supportive of me. i would ask me to come out and visit and attract audiences and to make people contribute. i wanted to be there. she made it very difficult. she pushed me off the staff and made the relationship based on a contract. immediately, she began cutting my salary and a diminishing my role.
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>> we have not seen her in this process. she is not. on any program. she lost her job after she had fired you. >> that is right. i do not know the details. npr hired an outside law firm to look into this and see what had taken place. she said it was illegal. apparently, there was some back and forth about who is authorized to do what. this letter to leave. >> she is welcome any time. we found this video from may 18, 2010. it was a talk she gave to a canadian journalist. >> [inaudible]
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the npr audience1/3 is liberal. [unintelligible] we don't cater to one person or white -- one type of political perspective. i think that is because of that, it is one of the more dangerous trends i have watched in the media. it is the idea of niche reporting. of creating content for people to hear their own viewpoint. [unintelligible] the problem is that is is not just one perspective.
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i hear anybody who has a different perspective is being demonized. that to me is really dangerous. that is scary, one of the scariest things for democracy. people have different opinions. >> what is your reaction to what she just said? >> given what has taken place, i was the one that was demonized in her mind for appearing on a conservative station like fox. she found that objectionable. she wants to encourage the debate. if she wanted to encourage debate, what is wrong with someone from npr engaging in debate with sean hannity? in terms of her overall
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assessment, she is on target. there is more niche programming today than ever before. they want pre-existing conditions confirmed. for selecting a program on television, people tend to go to an internet site. people of like mindedness tend to flock together. you want to make sure that people are aware of things for people not just like them. people in a poor neighborhood has to be a real person. i am all for that. the idea that she would somehow say that is why in npr personalities somehow been is
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not up to journalistic standards because he is going on fox is crazy. >> there is a whole world that exists and things that the old days were the better days. you even write in your book right that congress right could never make it today. it is a dangerous trend that we have. why is it dangerous for people who hear what they want to hear? >> the danger is that they are not aware of other points of view. >> hasn't that always been the case? >> it is more accelerated. there are now so many advocacy groups, as so many special interest groups that will simply tell you that you are out
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of line if the narrative you suggests does not comport with the line of argument that they want. you stop and think about it. we have had a terrible dust up on capitol hill. to my mind, she was saying that you wanted to vote against medicare and medicaid. you hear these kinds of things. i do not want either side to be unaware of what one side is saying. old and, it freezes the conversation. the're not hearing what other side is same.
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>> you talk about this. i want to run a clip from the rachel meadows show. let's watch that. i will get your reaction to what she does with your story. >> the short headline today is that he was fired from his job. he had to jobs and he lost one of them. he lost his job on national public radio. it said that his comments were inconsistent. purity is no longer working for national public radio. he most certainly did not lose his job at fox news. today he was given a raise at fox news as a result. fox news handed him a new three-year contract thursday
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morning in a deal that announced in nearly $2 million. it is a considerable bump up from his previous salary. the chief executive said he is an honest man. his freedom of speech is protected by fox is on a daily basis. if you mean freedom of speech in a legal sense, constitutional, let's be clear. and this is not a first amendment issue. juan williams has the right constitutionally to say anything that he wants. all of us do. the first amendment does not guarantee you a paid job as a commentator to say what you want. your employment as a person paid to speak is at the pleasure of your employer. at least one of his employers
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[unintelligible] were displeased this comment did not live with one of the people who was paying mr. williams to say what he thinks. juan williams lost that job. this is not a first amendment issue. this is an issue of what your employer is ok with. at fox news and not only isn't ok to talk about muslims being scary on airplanes, it is expected. it is part of what they're selling. >> expected? nobody said you have to do this. it had never been done before. we were talking are there about the niche market. they have an antagonistic attitude toward fox. there is no expectation for anyone telling me what to say. i can say without hesitation
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that no one has told me that you should say or do this. i had one guy from a british newspaper say i had somehow been pandering to the fox audience and that this was lay down with dogs to get up with fleas. the suggestion is that i am not there challenging people and engaging them in a real debate. mel o'reilly said, tell where i am wrong? he did not close it up. it was the next show that he had me on. we engaged in this conversation.
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it does become so controversial. >> if you're able to go to a dinner party with a group of people and ellen weiss is at the table and they're talking about this thing, what would they say in that room? what was her real beef with? >> i think it was my present and box. >> why don't they like fox? >> she had a problem with in it journalism. >> what is your problem with niche journalism? it is a free country. >> it should reflect all
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aspects of our contemporary society. that is what journalism is. journalism should be a first draft of history. that is the best we can do on a daily basis. give the consumer a sense of what is taking place in our society, the laws, the policies. >> when you were at npr, did you feel they were doing it? >> yes. i said i never had anybody tell me what to say. npr's journalism is more of a constructs. at one point ellen weiss said there so many conservatives over there. i said, there are so many liberals over here. we added it over here to hide in debates.
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there's not very different. i did not understand her on this issue at all. >> here is what you write in the first chapter. they see conflicts everywhere. what is wrong with that? >> people believed a compromise. you cannot sit here to principles in say that i am standing here on my principal and i will not compromise. >> nowhere did they show a genuine interest in bringing americans together. where is a written that anyone ought to bring people together to achieve a positive result that's quite it is not written.
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if you are being honest, you should present both sides. >> why? >> you want to be fully informed. >> has always been that way? >> no. edward r. murrow -->> he was clear at some point in condemning it. i do not think it was ever the case that the fear watching him at the time that you would have been unaware of what his argument was. what except his unwillingness to put mccarthy on the air. >> correct. you are not unaware of the argument. >> you wrote that a way to get attention is to say something outrageous. we have entire graduate classes
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of provocateurs. is bill o'reilly a provocateur? >> he has changed. he is much more down the middle now. he is trying not to be a guide that is predictable. he was on with michele bachmann. he held her feet to the fire. the viewers wrote in to say why were you so harsh with her? you are not being a the conservatives. the bill o'reilly i know is not a provocateur. sean can be highly provocative. >> the successful ones today are the ones that say outrageous things. >> correct.
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>> you can add of this with a three year contract on a provocative station. you are in a provocative atmosphere. msnbc -->> they were not successful until they became provocative. as we discussed, i wrote that i do not think that walter cronkite would be a success in american media today. people would think that he is boring institute invested in the details of the story as opposed to offering a point of view and helping people understand what he thinks about it. the people who dominate primetime in america today tend to be strong, authoritative
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personalities. sometimes even arrogant personalities. viewers enjoy that. i am willing to challenge them. i do not think i say things in order to be provocative or stirred the pot. i am engaged in real debate. i want to hear what they have to say. >> ellen weiss is going to say that is what you did when you made a comment about muslims. >> i do not think so. i am saying i understand what you are saying. the truth is people who attacked us on 9/11 were muslims. let's move on. let's talk about the fact that we do not stereotype questions on the basis of bad behavior by one christian.
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we do not do that. we should not be saying things that might lead someone to burn the koran. i said all of that at the time speaking to bill o'reilly. it was part of a larger contract. summative that out of context. ellen weiss used it to satisfy a longstanding. feeling that i should not be working at npr because i was working at fox. >> is nina at npr a provocateur? >> at times, yes. she said jesse helms that because of his opposition to some aids research that she thought there might be some justice in his death. >> she has been there just as correspondent for years.
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i want to run that clip. >> i think you have to be worried about what is going on in the good lord's mind. if there is retreated justice, you think aids from a transfusion or one of your grandchildren will get it. >> that has been brought. why is that not provocative? ellen weiss was not the boss them. why are they not controversy and you are? >> that is a hard one. there is no question that she's making an offensive statements. it has been allowed to stand. i think there are people at npr q. are allowed full latitude in terms of making these statements with no consequence to them and their careers. >> why do you think they make
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exceptions? >> people are a part of that history. npr has been around since the early 70's. they are seen as the people who should have authority. i was not part of the club. i was not given the kind of protection for saying what was on my mind. i was burned out. >> i want to run more of ellen weiss he was your boss. >> there is a shortage of reported news. [unintelligible]
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there is a shortage of trusted news. that is gathered by professionals who are ethical. it is a dreadful irony that information technology has expanded to [inaudible] society's capacity withtechnology is also challenging the revenue model. that is the reality. >> what do you think? >> she is not reflecting any reality. the reality is that people are interested in journalism and a substantial reporting. she makes it out to be that this is not exist anymore and that this is a shortage. i do not think there is a shortage of substantial
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reporting. there are more out was for real reporting. it seems to me there is a multiplicity of places to get news coverage. she seems to regret that and suggest that there should be specific places where journalists are allowed to practice in certain way. these are people that would hold up npr without holding up npr's bias. people still like certain stories and played those in give authority to certain personalities whether political or cultural and then suggest that is to be put on our air without attaching the significance. they have some bias. the way she talks is that she is the keeper of the blame of all virtue in terms of journalism. npr had its own bias and
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leanings and audience. she has a certain line as to what the kind of journalism she was practicing. >> liberals would love to know how conservative it is inside of fox news. conservatives would like to know how liberal it is at npr. >> much of this has to do with the the leadership. if you ask me about npr, i would say one of the big problems is the people who are running it was similar point of view. this is a place to not be liberal or be identified as liberal. it would have been extraordinary. >> how do you know? >> i worked with them for 10 years. i saw people come and go. it was steadily a very liberal atmosphere. that is to was there.
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>> did you ever meet a conservative at npr? >> no. >> what in terms of npr management? >> no. >> what about a liberal inside of fox? >> i am a liberal. if you're asking about something of affirmative action, i am a supporter. i am a supporter of gun control. i do not know how you measure. i'm pretty liberal on those points. if you're asking me to try to be directly to you about a political situation, i will not be predictable in terms is saying be left is always right
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or the right is always wrong. i will try to tell you what i think. we may have pointed disagreements. i will try to give you my honest assessment. >> a conservative talk show hosts runs against the mainstream media. do you think that is fair? >> what is wrong with people telling you that you have provocative techniques to stir the pot? >> why do they get so upset about the mainstream media? >> people need to get outside of that very small world and your other points of view. >> you cannot force people to do that. >> as a matter of good journalism, you say here is an opportunity for you to be fully informed.
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>> who practices good journalism today? >> a lot. it is making sure you have a broader a ray of voices and experiences in terms of your presentation. i think there is lots of good journalism are round. there are more sources of journalism today with the internet than there has ever been. there is a plethora of places you can go and get information. if you pick out certain ones and stay right there and never open your eyes, there are other points of view. >> there are a couple of brothers that have a video block of the daily conversation. i do not think you will agree with them.
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let's see what they say. >> we both agreed that you have been warned. he continued to speak out in actions. we would go on these shows and directly contradict what npr wanted him to do. >> and what npr was about. he signed his contract. he has been fired. we applaud npr for that. >> he just signed 8 $3 million contract. >> everybody is a winner here. >> why am i a token? because of my skin color or my politics? i think i have, especially after my career at the post,
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cnn, and npr, i think that you could say that this is a person who has some merit in the field of journalism. i am 57 years old. they want to present me as a token. they said i should be aware that the npr had things they did not want me to say. what kind of journalism? a journalist is not allowed to speak without orders that that is an interesting kind of journalism. you are just a mouthpiece. that is not me. quite as things change, here is a blogging.
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anyone can find these guys. they are on television. is that better bad? >> it is fine. there are more opinions in the news universe than ever. i do not think that is a bad thing. you have to be a very alert news consumer in this environment. would i grant them credibility as a revival news source? do i believe they talk like people like me before they make comments? i do not think that. they can say outrageous things and get more of an audience or cater to people who have one set of beliefs. >> apply that to npr which you said is elitist and liberal. why should anybody pay attention to them if they are looking at the world their liberal allies or vice versa?
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>> you should be aware of them. in both places, you can find examples of good journalism. it represents point of view. there is a big difference. fox is in the cable news difference. npr is in the radio business. fox has the strong personalities nprime time. -- in prime time. you are going to get very strong medicine and opinions, authoritative views that hold an audience. npr does not do that. people have a hard time naming many of the hosts on npr. the way that npr presented is that they are neutral.
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they did not admit that there is a point of view. >> let me talk about your book. you were born in panama. why was your mom there? >>my dad who was born in jamaica went to panama. there was a tremendous amount of disease there. my other grandfather went to panama because of the can now. -- the canal. he went there to open a restaurant here and. they opened it up for the black and chinese. he opened a restaurant.
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that is why my mother was born. >> at the recent press club when you spoke, you introduced your son. what is his name? what is he going to do? >> he spent the last two summers in china. the second one, he worked for a public relations firm. my other son tony williams is an executive in philadelphia for the comcast cable company. >> what is he doing? >> he helps them with lobbying and putting together different kinds of deals and public images. it is mostly for the state and local governments. one of his endeavors was the comcast merger.
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what do you have a daughter? >> she is a lawyer in san francisco involved in employment law. >> you also have your wife. tell us about her. >> i met her here in washington. i came to washington in 1976. we got married in 1978. we have been married for 33 years. >> what is her profession that's quite she was a social worker. she is now retired. >> this whole event started in october 2010. who first suggested the book? >> publishers came to me. penguin published the first one.
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crown has published all of my subsequent booksall my subsequent votes came to me say that we are interested. other publishers,they came to me in such a way do it. >> that is random house? >> yes. >> the vice president for the news at fox took charge of guiding through the days of telling my side of the story and keeping me on track. explain what happens and why you had him as your guide that's what happened afterward? why did you need guiding?
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>> he is there in terms of making sure the news is reporting. the night that i got fired, i got a call from ellen weiss. my head was spinning. i thought my career might be over. >> did you expected at some point? >> i thought it would ask me to make a choice. i did not expect it to come so suddenly. i did not expect them to act in such a way as to personally try to damage me. that was what was most upsetting to me.
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i was so damaged that as we think it is not a big thing to happen. i did not say anything to anybody. i spoke to my wife that night. then i went back on the air to do the sean hannity show. sean asked, are you ok? you seem like something is wrong. i told him. at that time, npr leaked the story. they are positioning as a bigot. how am i supposed to respond to
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this? i do not have a publicist. i am one person. he was going to believe me as opposed to the millions of people who live and love npr. >> i want you to hear what cnn did with this story. listen to the words of john king and roland martin. >> i remember when the times square bomber was just last week. he said the war with muslims is just beginning. there is no way to get away from these facts. people want to remind us that it is not a war against islam. >> i have known him from a
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number of years. he is a fair guy. he is a thoughtful guy. a lot of americans, rightfully or wrongfully, they have the same sentiments. they also feel guilty about it. >> here is why shook my head. these are the facts. this is your opinion. you are basing it on a stereotype. he would be offended if a white woman said the same thing. if i see a white guy with a crewcut and some black boots, i do not automatically think is he a neo-nazi. i would not look as someone who is the jewish and say you have certain hat you might be [inaudible]
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that is the problem with stereotypes. >> what do you think? this is a journalism show. he comes from the associated press. he said you are fair and thoughtful. he may have even said you are on this. is that the role of someone to play? this all goes back to your book about being provocative. these are all provocative programs. >> john said he has experience with me and has some background. he put it into context. he said, this is what i know of this person. i think what you heard from martin was some suggesting that there is not in the basis that i was bringing in stereotypes. i was expressing a feeling as opposed to what martin suggested, an opinion.
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an opinion would be -- embrace. i was just being honest. that is the kind of visceral response i had after 9/11. in the aftermath, and the number of people saying they feel muzzled and have a similar feeling is not wonder to people. muzzled was one of the initial titles i came up with. i had second thoughts. i thought it makes me out to be some sort of crazed animal and being black i'm sensitive about the whole notion of not being a thoughtful and smart person. when i would talk about it with friends or other people in journalism, it is punchy.
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this is the kind of thing that will catch a reader's eye. >> we started talking about this early in the program. they say you have a good deal. you have a three-year contract. people say, are you all right? is this still happening? >> it happened recently. men think in terms of money. they basically say, what is the bottom line? are you paying for your family's business and all of that? i think the emotional damage is something we want to tap into. women will still come up to me and say, have you recovered from this emotionally? >> republicans go after in pure money from the fed.
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-- npr money from the fed. they have a lot of smoke and excitement. your friend was after the money. they still get the money. twice they get the money because americans and the presidency its in terms of a bottom-line issue. leave it a loan. they value npr. how many americans value it? it is as a new source. there is a reluctance to take that away. i can to the conclusion that they say they have to protect them because of the antidotes. i do not think journalists should have to be responsive to one side or the other. >> that means you are admitting that there is a liberal network.
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>> they need democrats to support me. republicans are after me. i'm going to advance them. >> why would you want to pay for it? >> i agree. that is why you suddenly see it become so politicized. >> we have some video from the party that was held in your honor. we're just about out of time. our guest has been juan williams. tell us if you recognize anyone in these pictures. >> scott simon. he was one of the few npr people who came. there he is with his wife. they have been supportive.
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>> where are your liberal friends? >> i have liberal friends that came to the party. right there, as cnn. to the right is a very liberal professor from the university of maryland. here is a conservative friends. >> we are out of time. thank you. the name of the book is "muzzled: the assault on honest debate." >> thank you very much for having me. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> for a dvd copy of this program, called 1-877-662-7726. for free transcripts are to give us your comments about this program, visit us at www.q-
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